IRVING, Texas – Rolando McClain and Jeremy Mincey were both on the practice field for the first time Friday, as they were cleared of concussion-like symptoms.
The defensive duo both suffered head injuries in the wildcard win against Detroit and had not been spotted at practice this week – up until Friday. Minutes before the Cowboys took the field for their final practice before this weekend's trip to Green Bay, coach Jason Garrett said the two had been cleared for practice.
"We anticipate Rolando and Mincey practicing today," Garrett said.
That's a good bit of news for a Dallas defense that has been missing three starters during the preparation for the practice. The third starter, rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens, was once again not at practice while he continues to nurse his ankle injury from Dec. 28.
"He has not practiced over the last couple of days. We don't anticipate him doing much," Garrett said. "Probably on a similar schedule to last week and hopeful that he will play in this game."
The silver lining for Hitchens, as Garrett pointed out, is that he played last weekend against the Lions without a single practice rep. Hitchens even wound up moving to middle linebacker because of the injury to McClain – all of this just one week after suffering the injury.
"There's work on that ankle that he went through last week that if the game weren't so darn important you would have said, 'Don't play,'" Garrett said. "But he toughed it out and he ended up playing 33 or so plays for us and we really needed him to play because of what happened to Rolando."
Hitchens aggravated that injury during his performance against the Lions, but Garrett said the Cowboys feel cautiously optimistic about his progress this week.
"We feel he is on a pretty similar pace as to what he was last week at this time," he said. "So we're hopeful he can do something, but we have got to see how he feels over the next couple of days."
Behind the starters, defensive tackle Terrell McClain once again did not practice Friday. McClain has worked in rotation with Nick Hayden, Josh Brent and Tyrone Crawford since Henry Melton was placed on injured reserve after the regular season.
If the ankle injury holds McClain out against the Packers, Garrett said the Cowboys may need to make a roster move. Dallas has carried two rookie defensive tackles, Davon Coleman and Ken Bishop, on its practice squad for much of the season.
"We've certainly practiced that way with our young defensive tackles on the practice squad, and we'll evaluate what happens today and make that decision before the game," Garrett said.